When I think back to some of my favorite memories growing up, two holidays always stand out, Thanksgiving and Chanukah. Just a few years ago the two holidays coincided and the term Thanksgivikkah was born. At the time we thought we would never use it again, but this year Chanukah begins just after Thanksgiving, close enough in proximity that some families will break out their chanukkiot early to light the candles and celebrate. And why not? Just being able to be together this year is a miracle worth celebrating after this long and difficult pandemic time.
Gratitude is a value clearly expressed in both Thanksgiving and Chanukah. It has been the tradition of the Alperin family to speak about gratitude each Thanksgiving and go around the table— virtual or in-person—to share what we are thankful for. Inevitably, most of us are thankful for our family and for the good health, safety and security of our community.
Sadly, safety and security are often top of mind these days. With the recent statistics released stating that almost 60% of hate crimes are perpetrated against Jewish people, who make up just 2% of the nation’s population and the growing normalization of anti-Semitic tropes, imagery and accusations, it is time to Shine A Light on antisemitism. Chanukah, the festival of lights, presents a wonderful opportunity to do so and I am excited to share that the Jewish Federations of Connecticut, Connecticut ADL and JFACT have received a generous grant to do just that. During the week of Chanukah, be on the lookout for our Shine A Light statewide media campaign and then join us for a very special virtual program featuring Oren Jacobson from Project Shema on December 6, as we celebrate the final night of Chanukah together.
In addition to Thanksgiving and Chanukah, we also mark Veteran’s Day during the month of November. As we remember the veterans of past wars, our gratitude extends to those who answer the call to serve and protect our nation today. Today there are 40,000 active-duty members of the U.S. military who are Jewish or have Jewish family members, and 37,000 Jewish military veterans. These service members and veterans are supported by the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB). JWB was the forerunner to the JCC Association and continue its work as part of its umbrella. JWB’s Torahs for our Troops program commissions small torahs to be sent into the field and just dedicated a full size torah at the interfaith chapel at Camp David. Our JCC is proud to be part of the JCC Association.
In the spirit of gratitude and appreciation of this holiday season, I want to thank every volunteer and professional who works tirelessly in support of our Jewish community. Greater New Haven is blessed to have a number of incredibly talented and hard working professionals and volunteers. Our collective success would not be possible without partnership between volunteers and professionals and partnerships between the agencies and synagogues.
Thank you to all who roll up their sleeves to propel our community forward. I also offer a most hearty thank you to the generous donors who collectively invest millions of dollars into the Greater New Haven Jewish community every year so that Jewish life continues to thrive. There are many ways to invest your charitable dollars and the Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC of Greater New Haven is grateful to be your partner in philanthropy as we continue to be here for good.